By Jim Bender, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Knowing it was their final game before the NHL all-star break, the Philadelphia Flyers went all out against the Winnipeg Jets.
Forward Noah Cates scored a goal and an assist to help the Flyers blank the Jets 4-0 on Saturday night.
“Going into the break, you just empty the tank and you’re not too worried about how you’re going to feel for the next game,” said Cates, who scored the first goal of the game.
“We’re feeling good about ourselves going into the break with a win. We’ve had a really good month here in January and we’ve got a couple of more big months coming down the stretch.”
Carter Hart made 40 saves to earn his first shutout of the year for Philadelphia (21-21-9), which is 7-1-1 in its last nine road games.
“It’s great,” Cates said. “He’s probably been one of our best players, one of our most consistent players all year. He’s been holding us in games and for him to be rewarded with a shutout is big.”
Kieffer Bellows, Owen Tippett and Tony DeAngelo also scored for Philadelphia. Rasmus Ristolainen had two assists.
It was the fourth shutout of Hart’s NHL career.
“It’s obviously nice,” Hart said. “There were a lot of big blocks, a lot of good sticks in lanes. They do a lot of seam passes and we did a good job of denying that.”
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 26-of-30 shots for Winnipeg (31-19-1) — which lost its third straight game — before being relieved by David Rittich before 14,476 fans at Canada Life Centre. Rittich made three saves in relief.
Many of the fans booed the hometown team and Jets coach Rick Bowness didn’t blame them.
“This group knows how to win,” Bowness said. “There is a price to pay in this league. You have to work, you have to compete, and you have to do it every night. As the season progresses, it gets harder.
“Right now, you’re seeing what we’re seeing. As soon as there is a little adversity — we handled it well early in the year — we’re not handling it well right now. The difference-makers, you can’t even find them out there. Until we make that commitment again to play as a team and we want to win, this is what you get.”
Bowness was so frustrated that he called a timeout with 7:06 left in the second period with the Flyers up 2-0.
“(Adam Lowry’s) line was the best line out there, by far,” Bowness said. “We didn’t have enough guys going to follow it up. We had some guys that clearly didn’t want to play tonight. You can’t get momentum. You can get momentum when those guys go out there, but the next guys have to go out and have the same attitude. We didn’t.”
The Jets are now 17-8-0 at home.
“We will use tomorrow to rest, watch some shifts and see where we can improve,” Lowry said. “It feels like the sky is falling a bit, but we’re still in a good spot.
“We can win this game against St. Louis on Monday, and going into the break, use those rest days and come back really refreshed. Obviously, we’re disappointed with the effort, disappointed with the outcome. Three games in a row that we’ve kind of let slip away. You’re going to want to stop this slide as soon as we can.”
DeAngelo scored on setup from Scott Laughton at 6:48 of the third period, which chased Hellebuyck from the net. Tippett scored on a breakaway while Bellows scored his first of the year in the second.
Winnipeg defenceman Dylan DeMelo missed the game with a lower-body injury. He is not expected to return until after the all-star break. … Veteran winger Sam Gagner returned to the lineup, replacing Axel Jonsson-Fjalby (healthy scratch). … Philadelphia forward Wade Allison (lower body injury) did not play after the Carman, Man., native blocked a shot in the overtime loss to the Wild in Minnesota on Thursday. … Philly was also without forward Zach MacEwen (upper-body). … Flyers centre Kevin Hayes was riding a four-game points streak heading into the game. The former Jet has scored 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his last 13 games and will be Philadelphia’s rep at the all-star game.
Jets: Will host the St. Louis Blues on Monday.
Flyers: Will host the New York Islanders on Monday, Feb. 6.